December 6, 2013

Pan Am Railways stops service past Madison paper mill

Mill’s decision to stop shipping via rail prompts Pan Am to say it’s no longer economical for the railroad to operate north to Anson.

By Rachel Ohm
Staff Writer

MADISON — Freight transportation along a segment of a rail line has come to a halt following complaints about outbound service being disrupted by train derailments, while local businesses are saying the stop has been costly and forced them to search for alternative modes of transportation.

click image to enlarge

CHANGES: Cousineau Wood Products employees Darrell Clark, left, and Jerry Chestnut work on flooring stock at the North Anson company on Thursday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

rail service: Madison Paper Industries has stopped shipping on Pan Am rail lines like these because derailments hampered the paper company’s deliveries, according to a paper company official. The section of track is near Martin Stream Road and the Fairfield and Norridgewock townline.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Additional Photos Below

Officials at Pan Am Railways said Thursday that they no longer are providing service to a 26-mile stretch of track north of Oakland through Madison and on to North Anson, in part of which the state in recent years invested more than $500,000 to keep the tracks open.

Madison Paper Industries historically has shipped most of its products on Pan Am and been its largest customer north of Waterville. However, the Madison paper mill no longer is using the railroad after numerous derailments during the last several years that have caused delays in delivering paper products to customers, said Russ Drechsel, president of Madison Paper.

Pan Am, in turn, said it doesn’t make financial sense for the railroad to continue to service the rest of the track north of Madison because without the business of the paper mill the Massachusetts-based company would not make enough money to cover the cost of maintaining that section of track, said Cynthia Scarano, executive vice president for Pan Am Railways. Scarano would not comment on why the paper mill no longer uses rail service.

“We’ve been working very diligently with the other paper mills in Maine to try and increase what we’re bringing in and taking out,” Scarano said. “Madison basically made a decision that rail wasn’t going to be their primary form of transportation, and that’s their business decision. If we’re not going to make money, it’s not a good business decision for us either.”

The decision by the mill and the effect on the railroad — unforeseen by state and local officials — means that smaller business customers on the line no longer will be able to use the service out of North Anson and are being forced to explore alternative and more expensive shipping options.

Cousineau Wood Products and ARC Enterprises both said they were notified by Pan Am about a month ago that they would not be able to be serviced at the North Anson station, officials said.

“We need the railroad. There’s no way we could do what we do without them,” said Walter Kilbreth, president of ARC Enterprises, a manufacturer of steel bridge beams in Kingfield that employs about 30 people. Without service to the North Anson station, where the line ends, Kilbreth said the company is bringing shipments of large sheets of steel, some as large as 85 feet long by 10 feet wide, via truck from South Portland, a distance of 90 miles.

Brody Cousineau, vice president of Cousineau Wood Products in North Anson, said the change in service is a financial burden on his company, which now relies on the transportation of raw materials from a loading station in Auburn via truck. He estimated that costs about an additional $500 per load. Cousineau also employs about 30 people, but his business is one of the larger employers in North Anson and recently applied for a federal grant that would allow it to add 10 more jobs.

Madison Paper Industries, which is also one of the larger employers in the area, provides jobs for about 225 people.

“We’re still working on determining what the exact cost is. It’s fairly fresh and we haven’t figured out what the most economical alternative is for us,” Cousineau said. He said the company expects to lose money from land that it leased to ARC for loading and storage at the rail yard as well as increased cost in bringing raw materials of plywood from the south.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

INCOMING: Cousineau Wood Products employee Ryan Atwood moves raw wood stock that now arrives by truck to the North Anson mill because Pan Am Railways no longer carries deliveries to the company.

Staff photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

Trucking: ARC Enterprises, a manufacturer of steel bridge beams in Kingfield is bringing shipments of large sheets of steel, some as large as 85 feet long by 10 feet wide, via truck from South Portland, a distance of 90 miles.

Contributed photo

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)